Somalia Cuts Diplomatic Ties With Kenya

This file photo taken on May 18, 2016, shows a woman waving a flag as soldiers and other military personnel of Somalia’s breakaway territory of Somaliland march past during an Independence day celebration parade in the capital, Hargeisa. PHOTO: MOHAMED ABDIWAHAB / AFP

 

Somalia announced on Tuesday it is severing diplomatic ties with Kenya, accusing Nairobi of “recurring” interference in its political affairs as Mogadishu prepares for long-awaited elections.

Tensions had been rising between the neighbours and the announcement came as Kenya hosted the leadership of Somaliland, a breakaway state not recognised by the central government in Mogadishu which considers the territory part of Somalia.

Information Minister Osman Abukar Dubbe told reporters that Kenyan diplomats in Mogadishu had been given seven days to leave and that Somalia’s envoys were being recalled from Nairobi.

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“The Somali government considers the people of Kenya a peace-loving community who want to live in harmony with other societies in the region. But the current leadership of Kenya is working to drive the two sides apart,” he said in Mogadishu.

“The government took this decision to respond to recurring outright political violations and interference by Kenya against the sovereignty of our country.”

AFP

Trump Orders US Troops Removal From Somalia

In this file photo taken on November 28, 2008, US Army soliders from 1-506 Infantry Division set out on a patrol in Paktika province, situated along the Afghan-Pakistan border. DAVID FURST / AFP
In this file photo taken on November 28, 2008, US Army soldiers from 1-506 Infantry Division set out on a patrol in Paktika province, situated along the Afghan-Pakistan border. DAVID FURST / AFP

 

President Donald Trump has ordered the removal of most US military and security personnel from Somalia, where they have been conducting operations against the Al-Shabaab militant group, the Pentagon said Friday.

After ordering major troop reductions in Iraq and Afghanistan recently, Trump’s new move reflects his drive to disengage US forces from what he calls endless wars abroad, making good on a campaign pledge in the final weeks of his presidency.

Trump “has ordered the Department of Defense and the United States Africa Command to reposition the majority of personnel and assets out of Somalia by early 2021,” the Pentagon said in a statement.

The Defense Department stressed the United States was “not withdrawing or disengaging from Africa,” amid concerns of a pullback from various areas in the continent.

“We will continue to degrade violent extremist organizations that could threaten our homeland while ensuring we maintain our strategic advantage in great power competition,” it said.

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The US Africa Command has maintained some 700 troops, personnel from other US security operations, and private security contractors in Somalia, both conducting attacks on Al-Shabaab and training Somali forces.

US troops have conducted operations against extremist groups in Somalia since the early 2000s, killing hundreds in mostly conventional aircraft and drone strikes that have caused significant civilian deaths.

US personnel meanwhile have sustained some casualties, including the death of a CIA officer in late November.

Acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller visited Somalia a week ago, where he “reaffirmed US resolve in seeing the degradation of violent extremist organizations that threaten US interests, partners, and allies in the region,” the Pentagon said.

On Wednesday Joint Chiefs Chairman General Mark Milley confirmed that the Defense Department was reviewing the size of its posture in the country.

“We recognize that Al Shabaab in the Lower River Jubba Valley is a threat. We know that it’s an organized, capable terrorist organization. It’s an extension of Al-Qaeda, just like ISIS was,” he said.

He called the US presence relatively small, “relatively low cost in terms of numbers of personnel and in terms of money.”

“But it’s also high risk,” he said. Yet, if US forces do not keep up pressure on Al-Shabaab, he said, they could threaten to attack US interests outside the Horn of Africa region.

“Most people probably don’t know what that small force has been doing, but they’ve helped prevent Shabaab — a prolific branch of Al-Qaeda — from forming an Islamic Emirate & disrupted terrorist operations,” said Thomas Joscelyn, an expert on Islamic extremist groups at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies think-tank.

Shabaab’s main goal, he said on Twitter, “is to create an Islamic emirate in Somalia and export jihad throughout the region.”

“The group has also experimented with sophisticated explosives to attack airplanes & international plotting can’t be ruled out.”

Withdrawals in Afghanistan, Iraq

The move came as Trump has sought to wind down US military engagements abroad to honor a pledge he made in the 2016 election.

He ordered US troop levels to be slashed by mid-January in Afghanistan and Iraq, to 2,500 troops in both cases.

The Pentagon said Friday that some of the personnel being pulled out of Somalia will be reassigned to neighboring countries, particularly Kenya and Djibouti, to allow cross-border operations against extremist groups in conjunction with partner forces.

“The US will retain the capability to conduct targeted counterterrorism operations in Somalia, and collect early warnings and indicators regarding threats to the homeland,” it said.

 

AFP

Five Killed In Somalia Hotel Attack

Somalia Election: Mohamed Abdullahi Emerges As President
File photo of Somalia flag.

 

 

At least five people were killed in a gun and bomb attack by suspected Al-Shabaab fighters on an upscale beachfront hotel in Somalia’s capital on Sunday, officials and witnesses said.

Security forces were struggling to regain control of the Elite Hotel in the Lido beach area more than an hour after the assault began, and the assailants appeared to have taken hostages, government security official Ahmed Omar told AFP.

“There is still sporadic gunfire and the initial information we have received indicates five people died and more than 10 others were wounded,” he said.

“The death toll can increase because the blast was massive and there is a hostage situation involved.”

Aamin Ambulance, a Mogadishu-based private service, reported that at least 28 people were wounded.

– ‘Chaos and people fleeing’ –

Witnesses confirmed that the attack began with a heavy explosion and reported that people were running from the area as gunfire could be heard from the hotel, which is frequented by government officials.

“The blast was very heavy and I could see smoke in the area. There is chaos and people are fleeing from nearby buildings,” said witness Ali Sayid Adan.

The dead included at least one government official: Abdirasak Abdi, who worked at the information ministry, said his colleague Hussein Ali.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, but it was similar to others carried out by the Al-Shabaab jihadist group, which is affiliated to Al-Qaeda.

Somalia plunged into chaos after the 1991 overthrow of then-President Siad Barre’s military regime, leading to years of clan warfare followed by the rise of Al-Shabaab which once controlled large parts of the country and Mogadishu.

Al-Shabaab was driven out of the capital in 2011, but its militants continue to wage war against the government, carrying out regular attacks.

Last week four Shabaab fighters held in Mogadishu’s central prison were killed in an intense shootout with security forces after they somehow managed to get their hands on weapons within the facility.

AFP

Seven Injured In Somalia Car Bombing

 

PHOTO USED TO ILLUSTRATE STORY: file photo of a destroyed car is seen at the site where a car bomb exploded near the Somali parliament in Mogadishu, Somalia, on January 8, 2020. Abdirazak Hussein FARAH / AFP

 

At least seven people were wounded on Saturday as police shot a suicide car bomber at a checkpoint outside the port in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu, police and witnesses said.

“A suicide bomber tried to strike the police post in front of the port but the security forces shot him and the vehicle exploded,” said police officer Abdukadir Ahmed.

“Two police officers and five civilians were wounded,” he said.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

Witnesses said officers opened fire on the vehicle after it failed to stop at the police checkpoint.

Somalia has suffered near-continuous conflict for almost 30 years, while the internationally-backed government in Mogadishu has been fighting Shabaab Islamic insurgents since 2008.

Bombings and other terrorist attacks are common in Mogadishu, although few have been recorded in recent months.

 

AFP

10 Killed, 12 Injured In Somalia Explosion

PHOTO USED TO DEPICT THE STORY. File photo of a destroyed car at the site of an explosion near the Somali parliament in Mogadishu. PHOTO: Abdirazak Hussein FARAH / AFP

 

At least 10 people died and 12 were wounded when an explosive device ripped through a minibus outside the Somali capital Mogadishu on Sunday, the government said.

The deadly explosion occurred near Lafole village along the Afgoye-Mogadishu where the passenger bus was travelling early in the day.

“At least 10 civilians were killed in an explosion at Lafole area this morning, those who died were all civilians,” the information ministry said in a statement, adding that the victims were on their way to a funeral.

Witnesses said the minibus was completely destroyed, and described a horrific scene with everyone on board either dead or wounded and many bodies ripped apart or burned beyond recognition.

“This was a horrible incident this morning, the explosive device went off as the bus was passing by the area and destroyed it completely,” said Daud Doyow, a witness.

“Bodies of civilians were strewn in pieces and most of the people died,” he added.

“There were more than 20 people on board and 10 of them were confirmed dead while the rest are seriously wounded and taken to hospital, this is a horrible scene here,” said another witness, Abdirisak Adan.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the bombing, but Somalia’s al Qaeda-aligned Shabaab group carries out regular attacks in and around the capital, often killing civilians.

AFP

Al-Shabaab Militants Attack Two Somali Military Bases

al shabaab
Al Shabaab soldiers patrol in formation along the streets of Dayniile district in Southern Mogadishu, March 5, 2012. REUTERS/Feisal Omar.

 

Al-Shabaab Islamists on Wednesday carried out attacks on two Somali military bases, using a suicide vehicle bombing and dozens of heavily armed militants, a military official said.

African Union troops stepped in to help repel the second, larger attack after a suicide bomber drove a vehicle packed with explosives onto a bridge leading to the Qoryoley army base some 95 kilometres (59 miles) west of Mogadishu and detonated it.

Earlier they had attacked the Ceel-Salini military base some 30 kilometres away.

“The terrorists carried out an … attack on the military bases at Qoryoley and Ceel-salini but our brave boys repelled them, they (Shabaab) have suffered heavy casualties this morning and the army is in full control in both areas now,” said Mohamed Adan, a Somali military commander in a nearby town.

“They have destroyed part of the bridge across the entrance to Qoryoley where the Somali military base is located using a vehicle loaded with explosives.”

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He said the AU peacekeeping force AMISOM had helped fight the Al-Qaeda linked militants.

It was not yet known how many casualties there were.

Witnesses said dozens of heavily armed Shabaab militants entered Qoryoley town and addressed a gathering of residents before retreating.

“The Shabaab fighters entered the town and one of their commanders spoke with a gathering before they made their way out of the town, the situation is quiet now and the Somali forces backed by AMISOM soldiers are patrolling the streets,” Ali Moalim, a resident in Qoryoley said by phone.

Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement, saying they had “captured a sizeable amount of military supplies”.

The group has fought for over a decade to topple the internationally-backed Somali government, and carries out regular attacks against civilian and government targets, despite losing much of the territory they once controlled.

Child Rapists Executed By Firing Squad In Somalia

A file photo of a court gavel.
A file photo of a court gavel.

A firing squad has executed two men in north-eastern Somalia for raping and killing a 12-year-old girl, according to a BBC report. 

Prosecutors said they relied on DNA evidence for the first time to convict them.

Aisha Ilyaas Aden was abducted, gang-raped and killed near her home in Galkayo, in the semi-autonomous region of Puntland, in February 2019.

The case caused uproar and sparked demonstrations across the country, the BBC said.

READ ALSO: Four Dead In Somalia Car Bomb

Ten suspects were initially arrested but the regional High Court found three of them guilty in May.

Two of those found guilty – Abdifatah Abdirahman Warsame and Abdishakur Mohamed Dige – were shot at a public square in Bossasso town on Tuesday morning, the Garowe Online news website reported.

“This execution will serve as a strong lesson and the Somali girls will be safe,” Aisha’s father, Mr Ilyas Adan told Puntland State TV.

Human Rights Watch has described rape as “normal” in Somalia, with police often failing to take cases seriously.

Four Dead In Somalia Car Bomb

‘The blast was huge’, one witness said

 

Four people were killed in a car bombing in Somalia on Saturday that apparently targeted Turkish engineers working on a road near the capital Mogadishu, police and witnesses said.

The attack was claimed by the Al-Qaeda-linked Islamist militant group Al-Shabaab, which has stepped up its activities in Somalia and neighbouring Kenya in recent weeks.

The bomb struck near the town of Afgoye about 30 kilometres (20 miles) west of the capital, killing four people and wounding several others including several Turkish nationals, said local police officer Abdirahman Adan.

“The blast was huge, it destroyed a container used by the Turkish engineers who work on the Afgoye road construction,” said witness Muhidin Yusuf.

“There were police who were guarding the Turkish engineers and several other people gathering near the checkpoint where the temporary shelter is located,” said another witness Ahmed Said.

“I saw the dead bodies of several (people) and Turkish workers who were wounded in the blast.”

The Islamist group, which has fought for more than a decade to topple the Somali government, has carried out a series of attacks in recent weeks including a massive car bombing in Mogadishu on December 28 that killed 81 people.

And on January 5, the jihadists stormed a military base used by US forces in Kenya’s coastal Lamu region, killing three Americans.

Last week, Al-Shabaab warned that Kenya will “never be safe”, threatening tourists and calling for more attacks on US interests.

Kenya sent troops into Somalia in 2011 as part of an African Union peacekeeping mission fighting against Al-Shabaab, and has seen several brutal retaliation attacks both on its troops in Somalia and civilians in Kenya.

Govt Official, Three Others Killed In Somalia Car Bombing

A destroyed car is seen at the site where a car bomb exploded near the Somali parliament in Mogadishu, Somalia, on January 8, 2020. Abdirazak Hussein FARAH / AFP

 

 

At least four people were killed, including a senior government official, when a car bomb exploded close to a checkpoint near Somalia’s parliament in the capital Mogadishu on Wednesday, police said.

A plume of thick black smoke was seen over the city and witnesses said a number of vehicles were on fire.

Islamist group Al-Shabaab claimed the attack, after a rise in activity in recent days by the Al-Qaeda linked group which has seen it inflict mass casualties in Somalia and attack a US military base in Kenya.

“Explosives were packed in a vehicle which the security forces think was trying to pass through the checkpoint, but because he could not do that, the suicide bomber detonated it,” said police officer Adan Abdullahi.

“Initial reports we have received indicate four people were killed and more than 10 others were wounded in the blast.”

Bile Ismail, the manager of finances at the ministry for women and human rights, was among those killed, relatives and colleagues told AFP.

“We have indeed lost a brother and good friend in the blast this morning,” Abdiqani Omar, the ministry’s former director-general, told AFP.

“He was sitting in the car waiting in line at the checkpoint when the blast occurred and his body (was) badly burned inside the car,” he added.

– ‘There was chaos’ –

Abdirahman Mohamed, who was at a nearby grocery store when the blast occurred, said he saw several corpses.

“I saw the dead bodies of several people, some of them killed by shrapnel inside their vehicles. There was chaos… and ambulances reached the scene soon after the blast,” he said.

Shamso Ali, another witness, described “smoke and chaos along the road, the blast was very heavy”.

“Thanks to God I was a distance away but I saw the smoke and several vehicles caught on fire,” he said.

Mogadishu is regularly hit by attacks by the Shabaab, which has fought for more than a decade to topple the Somali government.

The powerful blast comes after the Shabaab claimed a car bombing in Mogadishu on December 28 that killed 81 people.

That attack, which hit a busy checkpoint in the southwest of the city, was Somalia’s deadliest assault in two years. Scores were wounded.

The Shabaab has also managed to expand its network in the region, especially in Kenya which has suffered several devastating attacks in retaliation for sending troops into Somalia in 2011.

On Sunday, three US citizens died and several aircraft and military vehicles were destroyed when the Shabaab stormed a military base in Kenya’s coastal Lamu region.

Also Sunday, just hours after the attack, police arrested three men who tried to force their way into a British military training camp in the central Kenyan town of Nanyuki.

The Al-Qaeda-linked group has in the past carried out bloody sieges against civilians in Kenya, such as the upmarket Westgate Mall in 2013 and Garissa University in 2015.

The uptick in attacks comes almost a year since the January 15 siege on an upscale Nairobi hotel which left 21 people dead.

In recent statements, the Shabaab has referred to an increase in US military airstrikes under President Donald Trump, accusing Washington of killing innocent civilians.

AFRICOM said in April it had killed more than 800 people in 110 strikes in Somalia since April 2017.

AFP

Four Killed In Car Bombing Near Somalia Parliament

People start cleaning debris at the site where a car bomb exploded near the Somali parliament in Mogadishu, Somalia, on January 8, 2020.  Abdirazak Hussein FARAH / AFP

 

At least four people were killed, including a senior government official, when a car bomb exploded close to a checkpoint near Somalia’s parliament in the capital Mogadishu on Wednesday, police said.

A plume of thick black smoke was seen over the city and witnesses said a number of vehicles were on fire.

Islamist group Al-Shabaab claimed the attack, after a rise in activity in recent days by the Al-Qaeda linked group which has seen it inflict mass casualties in Somalia and attack a US military base in Kenya.

“Explosives were packed in a vehicle which the security forces think was trying to pass through the checkpoint, but because he could not do that, the suicide bomber detonated it,” said police officer Adan Abdullahi.

“Initial reports we have received indicate four people were killed and more than 10 others were wounded in the blast.”

Bile Ismail, the manager of finances at the ministry for women and human rights, was among those killed, relatives and colleagues told AFP.

“We have indeed lost a brother and good friend in the blast this morning,” Abdiqani Omar, the ministry’s former director general, told AFP.

“He was sitting in the car waiting in line at the checkpoint when the blast occurred and his body (was) badly burned inside the car,” he added.

 ‘There was chaos’ 

Abdirahman Mohamed, who was at a nearby grocery store when the blast occurred, said he saw several corpses.

“I saw the dead bodies of several people, some of them killed by shrapnel inside their vehicles. There was chaos… and ambulances reached the scene soon after the blast,” he said.

Shamso Ali, another witness, described “smoke and chaos along the road, the blast was very heavy”.

“Thanks to God I was a distance away but I saw the smoke and several vehicles caught on fire,” he said.

Mogadishu is regularly hit by attacks by the Shabaab, which has fought for more than a decade to topple the Somali government.

The powerful blast comes after the Shabaab claimed a car bombing in Mogadishu on December 28 that killed 81 people.

That attack, which hit a busy checkpoint in the southwest of the city, was Somalia’s deadliest assault in two years. Scores were wounded.

The Shabaab has also managed to expand its network in the region, especially in Kenya which has suffered several devastating attacks in retaliation for sending troops into Somalia in 2011.

On Sunday, three US citizens died and several aircraft and military vehicles were destroyed when the Shabaab stormed a military base in Kenya’s coastal Lamu region.

Also Sunday, just hours after the attack, police arrested three men who tried to force their way into a British military training camp in the central Kenyan town of Nanyuki.

The Al-Qaeda-linked group has in the past carried out bloody sieges against civilians in Kenya, such as the upmarket Westgate Mall in 2013 and Garissa University in 2015.

The uptick in attacks comes almost a year since the January 15 siege on an upscale Nairobi hotel which left 21 people dead.

In recent statements, the Shabaab has referred to an increase in US military air strikes under President Donald Trump, accusing Washington of killing innocent civilians.

AFRICOM said in April it had killed more than 800 people in 110 strikes in Somalia since April 2017.

AFP

Somali Jihadists Kill Three Americans In Attack On Kenyan Military Base

 

Attackers breached heavy security at Camp Simba at dawn but were pushed back and four jihadists killed, said army spokesman Colonel Paul Njuguna.

The American military, however, said three US citizens died in the attack including a service member and two civilian defence contractors.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of our teammates who lost their lives today,” General Stephen Townsend, the head of US Africa Command (Africom), said in a statement.

Two other US Department of Defence personnel were wounded, the statement added, without giving further details.

Al-Shabaab has launched regular cross-border raids since Kenya sent troops into Somalia in 2011 as part of an African Union force protecting the internationally-backed government – which the jihadists have been trying to overthrow for more than a decade.

The Lamu region, which includes popular tourist beach destination Lamu Island, lies close to the Somali frontier and has suffered frequent attacks, often carried out with roadside bombs.

Njuguna said “an attempt was made to breach security at Manda Air Strip” at 5:30 am but it was repulsed.

“Four terrorists’ bodies have so far been found. The airstrip is safe,” he said, adding that a fire had broken out but had since been dealt with.

Kenya’s Inspector General of Police Hilary Mutyambai said officers were “on high alert” after the attack.

Al-Shabaab ‘Lying’

An internal police report seen by AFP said two Cessna aircraft, two American helicopters and “multiple American vehicles” were destroyed at the airstrip.

Local government official Irungu Macharia said five people had been arrested near the camp and were being interrogated.

Shabaab claimed to have killed 17 Americans and nine Kenyan soldiers after the attack.

The nearby civilian airport at Manda Bay, which brings tourists visiting Lamu Island — a UNESCO World Heritage Site — was closed for several hours after the incident, according to the civil aviation authority.

Al-Shabaab said in a statement it had “successfully stormed the heavily fortified military base and have now taken effective control of part of the base”.

AFRICOM accused Al-Shabaab of lying in order to create false headlines.

Shabaab countered with a second statement, saying it had been a 10-hour firefight and mocking the US “inability to fend off an attack by just a handful of steadfast Muslim men”.

The group referred to an uptick in US military airstrikes under President Donald Trump, accusing the US of “strafing villages from above and indiscriminately bombarding innocent women and children.”

AFRICOM said in April it had killed more than 800 people in 110 strikes in Somalia since April 2017.

US Military Network

The Somali jihadists have staged several large-scale attacks inside Kenya in retaliation for Nairobi sending troops into Somalia as well as to target foreign interests.

The group has been fighting to overthrow an internationally-backed government in Mogadishu since 2006, staging regular attacks on government buildings, hotels, security checkpoints and military bases in the country

Despite years of costly efforts to fight Al-Shabaab, the group on December 28 managed to detonate a vehicle packed with explosives in Mogadishu, killing 81 people.

The spate of attacks highlights the group’s resilience and capacity to inflict mass casualties at home and in the region, despite losing control of major urban areas in Somalia.

In a November report, a UN panel of experts on Somalia noted an “unprecedented number” of homemade bombs and other attacks across the Kenya-Somalia border in June and July last year.

On Thursday, at least three people were killed when suspected Al-Shabaab gunmen ambushed a bus travelling in the area.

According to the Institute for Security Studies, the United States has 34 known military bases in Africa, from where it conducts “drone operations, training, military exercises, direct action and humanitarian activities”.

US military Says Three Killed In Kenya Jihadist Attack

 

A jihadist attack on a military base in Kenya killed three people Sunday, including a US service member and two civilian defense contractors, the American military said.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of our teammates who lost their lives today,” General Stephen Townsend, the head of US Africa Command (Africom), said after jihadists from Somalia’s Al-Shabaab group stormed a base in the Lamu region.

Two other Department of Defense personnel were wounded in the attack on Camp Simba, Africom added in a statement which gave no details on the identity of those killed.